In his latest opinion piece in VtDigger.com, Bruce Lisman the multi-millionaire candidate running in the Republican gubernatorial primary says: “It’s time to dare to be great!”
His top priority if elected would be: “First, I’d ask you to re-imagine our state’s government – one that treats its constituents as valued customers and sees employers as strategic partners.”
Well yes sir, Bruce! Re-imagine – Constituents as valued customers ! Whoa, that’s a catch phrase for voters to rally round.
The problem with this suggestion is the role of constituents (citizens) and customers are different. On a government service level citizens experience interactions that are similar but not the same as those a customer might experience. Briefly a customer in the market place has the opportunity to choose what, where and when to buy. And a citizen using government services can’t exactly shop around for the best price on something. You can’t shop around for the best deal on your truck registration. The state of Vermont has a total monopoly on that one. And unlike a customer/seller relationship ,citizenship comes with collective obligations for the common good.
The retired Wall Street banker might just be listening to the call of his own imagined greatness propelling him forward.
Perhaps he hears echoes of Abraham Lincoln’s moving 1862 address to Congress “Fellow customers, we cannot escape history… The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.”
However Bruce Lisman might give consideration to the ancient philosopher Aristotle’s words of caution : “It is not always the same thing to be a good customer and a good citizen.”